The twins are mere midgets now, showering their love unconditionally and demanding the same in return. Life is full of hugs and kisses and mushy cuddles :) . Which we are thankful for. The only thing that worries me is that it wouldn’t be long before they wriggle out of our grasp and squirm when we try to kiss them. That they will avoid their best to be in our company and roll their eyes when we say something for their good. That they will think their parents are the dumbest of the lot!! That some day, our kids might label us as “uncool”. *Shudder*.
So we try and absorb all the love that comes in freely now. Without asking, without demanding. The twins have grown rather possessive of their momma ,who does a rather silly preening act when they hold her tight and claim that she’s theirs . Awww munchkins, who else would I rather belong to?!!
Anyhow, while on trying our best NOT to be uncool, I can’t help, but recollect instances of my parents bringing us up. Which doesn’t strictly mean instances where they disciplined us, but rather, just slices of their life and how exactly I’ve come to believe that my parents rock big time in the ‘coolth’ department
Check these out :-
1) Dad was posted as the CWO (Commanding Works Officer) in Dehradun. We were regular visitors to the DSOI (officer’s club) every weekend. In those days, we owned a Fiat (Premier Padmini) , which technically ran only on sheer will power and not petrol (as is the case with the current brand of cars). Anyhow, we used to get dressed to the nines, pile into the car, dad would insert the key in the ignition, and after the car gave a few failed spurts and chokes, we would pile out again , take position and push hard. Now, I’ll tell you one thing about the Fiat of days gone by. Those machines were made of metal. Heavy metal. No fancy fibre and stuff. Just hardcode metal which weighed a ton. I realized this much later when I got a chance to push Dad’s Maruti Zen and the Maruti 800 before that. These new cars were so light, almost easy to push them single-handedly. Whereas, the Fiat required all the force we three sisters could exert.
So we hiked up our skirt, positioned our stillettoed feet, placed our hands on the dicky and grunted totally unladylike while pushing . There were lucky days when the car would start (albeit with a few jerks) within a few feet of pushing. And then, there were days when it took us close to 500 metres to get that heap of metal to respond!! Aah!! Joyful, it was NOT!!
But that’s not all. While leaving the house, we were lucky that the pushing took place within the driveway of our Bungalow compound. So no one could see us and cause us misery and humiliation.
But, it was a different story when returning from the party.
There would be other people in the parking lot. We would bid everyone good-bye , pile into the car and start praying fervently that it start. But it wouldn’t. So it was back to spilling out, hiking skirt, positioning feet,placing hands and shoving hard.
So much for dignity
When a couple of officers offered help by way of shove, Dad would politely decline them. He would say that his daughters are no less than boys and he would expect nothing less of us than to pitch in when faced with trouble. The poor officer would step back politely and we would resume pushing, with a fake smile on our face, unsure whether to take pride in what dad had said or resent him for refusing to part with that rusting-pile-of-heavy-element-masquerading-as-car !!
Looking back, I realized two things. He made us independent and responsible and not some simpering damsels in distress who look to other people for help. And secondly, we gotta cherish and look after things which are old. Not all old things are useless and have to be sent to the scrap dealers.
And oh, he finally donated the car to an orphanage. He couldn’t come to terms with selling it!! It was his first car, after all
PS: the Brother was in Bangalore in those days and was of no help whatsoever
2) While travelling in the same Fiat , mom would often chide Dad if he stepped up the accelerator. For her, even 30 on the speedometer was “speeding”. Dad used to have a tough time arguing with her and we three would simply tune out, gaze outside or start chattering among ourselves. It was understood that the parents would still be arguing on the speed even after we reached our destination.
Anyway, one such day on MG Road, Pune, Dad was cruising along, when suddenly this auto-rickshaw guy creeped up besides him and yelled into his window,”bageeche mein chala rahe ho kya?”
Without missing a beat, dad replies,”Mujhpar mat chilla-o. Yeh madam ko bolo. Inko tees ki speed bhi zyada lag rahi hai“.
Without missing a beat, mom retorts to the auto driver,”Problem kya hai? Overtake karna nahin aata kya?”
Poor auto guy just looked flummoxed and sped away as fast as his auto could take him.
Meanwhile, obviously, we three sisters were doubled up with laughter!!
3) Once, when I was about 11 years old, I walked into the kitchen to find my parents locked in a tight embrace, with dad just bending down to kiss mom. I was shocked!! For Gosh’s sake!! We are Indians!! Our parents don’t touch each other, let alone kiss!! We all knew where babies came from! They were the outcome of two roses,sunflowers or dahlias getting cozy and then the mother returning from the hospital carrying the baby. Surely our dad had NO role to play here!!
But here he was, cozying up to mom the way the roses had done in “Aan Milo Sajnaa“. Not done, I tell you.
So I stood there gaping at them. Mom flushed a deep pink and tried to get away from dad. But he held her tight. Turning to me , he said,”If you don’t mind, I want to kiss my wife. I don’t need your permission for it. And oh, for the record, she was my wife before she became your mom. So beat it”.
Beat it, I did. Totally appalled at the blatant breach of morals!!
But down the years, when I see dad come home and randomly pull out a single rose for mom, proclaiming his love for her, even after all these years, I’m all misty eyed .
I don’t see any harm in expressing love. It comes naturally to my parents and I would like my kids to also realize that their parents have their own personal life too. Surprisingly, none of my friends have ever seen their parents get cozy or even the least bit intimate. More’s the pity!!
4) There was a time when I was living alone in Pune. Bags was in Gurgaon, Aapa in Dubai. Bro was in B’lore with parents, but was awfully busy with work. Dad had taken up a plethora of activities post retirement and seemed to spend most of his time away from home.
Mom used to rant at us that Dad isn’t paying her any attention, he’s immersing himself into a zillion activities and try as she might, she’s unable get interested in those herself! Oh well, there wasn’t much we could do other than tell her to start her own activities. She hummed and hawed and said she’ll see.
So what does my then 55-year-old, middle-class mother do?
(Well, what do such ladies do anyway??)
My mom had her head shaved.Yup, she got rid of her shoulder length, thick hair. Not just trimmed, but shaved away!!!
And that, got Dad’s attention. And how?!!!
He was flabbergasted at seeing her. And my mom, cool as a cucumber says, “If only you’d paid attention, this wouldn’t have happened!!”
Dad made sure never to ignore mom after that.
And Oh, when Mom came over to Pune shortly after the shaving episode, I swear she stunned everyone here too. My cousins promptly declared her the coolest person ever and begged mom to retain the look. Even I was impressed. And jealous!! She had no right to look so cool and amazing even without hair (and here I was , mourning the loss of each hair that left my scalp, never to return!!)
5) Army wives have this habit of dressing up their living rooms with trivia, show-pieces, driftwood and the singular piece of embroidered Horse, mounted as a frame (you won’t believe the number of houses which display The Horse. It almost has a standing of its own!!).
A long time back, maybe sometime in 1985-86, mom made our Orderly-bhaiyya (The guy assigned to assist Dad) to run out to the main road to collect the shattered glass pieces of an accident that had taken place there the previous night. The advantage of those shattered glass crystals was that they generally didn’t have sharp edges. The orderly-bhaiyya collected as much as he could. Mom then washed those crystals with Nirma , dried them and then filled a glass vase containing some dry-arrangement thingies with these crystals. The over-all look was beautiful!! Those glass crystals stayed with us all these years, although their quantity kept depleting, what with bratty officer’s-kids stealing fistfuls and throwing them around!!
Recently, when I was in B’lore (before my wedding, so make that 4 years back ) , me, mom and dad were returning from a big dinner party from RSI (MG Road, B’lore). On one of the by-lanes leading to our home, mom noticed the remains of a recent accident. There was a large pile of shattered glass lying on the road. Since it was close to mid-night, there wasn’t a soul around. Mom suggested that we pick the glass since the stock at home was over. I protested vehemently, but surprisingly, dad seconded mom. He said it would hardly take a minute if all three of us pitched in. So very reluctantly, I piled out with them. Mom fished out a plastic bag from her purse (I have the same habit of carrying my own plastic bags now!!) and we three squatted down to collect the glass.
Half-way through, a police patrol bike came up and the two policemen astride were stunned to see three well dressed people huddled up on the road. They couldn’t see what we were up to, but surely, that looked even more suspicious!! One of them called out to us and asked us what we were up to!! Dad had this mortified look on his face. He turned beet red, stood up slowly, cleared his cravat-covered throat and in his best Kannada, explained that he was helping his wife collect broken glass.
It didn’t make any sense to the policemen. Why would a middle-age lady, dressed in Kanjeevaram silk, stoop to collect glass pieces off the road? They just gaped at us, expecting more. Mom quietly got up and with a dignified nod of her head, declared that we were done. She apologised to the policemen (in chaste urdu) for holding them up and walked calmly till the car. Dad quickly followed. And the only reason I tagged last, was because I couldn’t get my eyes off the policemen’s face.
I’m sure they thought us a quirky family, the kinds who own a high-end car, dress impeccably and then huddle in the middle of the road collecting glass pieces
I wish I had a camera to click the expression those policemen had!!
Even while leaving, I turned back and saw that they were still rooted to the spot, wondering if they were dreaming or people like us do exist
Looking back now, I realize my parents really are the epitome of “cool”. They let us choose our own field of education or work, even let me make my own choice in the matter of marriage. They were never patronizing or the kinds who imposed their will on us. They were just themselves and gave us a choice of being either ourselves or being what others wanted us to be. Luckily, we take after them.
And I seriously hope that down the years, I give my kids enough chance to think positively about their mom too. And also their dad. Even if he feels that kids should stick to the flowers-give-babies theory .
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